Professor Justin Cooper-White

Head of School

School of Chemical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology


Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

Affiliate Professor

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
+61 7 336 51291


Professor Justin Cooper-White is a global leader in using engineering to solve problems in biology. In addition to holding the position of Executive Dean (Acting) of the EAIT faculty, he is Head of School and Professor of Bioengineering in the School of Chemical Engineering, Affiliate Professor in the AIBN, Director of the Australian National Fabrication Facility-Queensland Node, Research Director of the Herston Biofabrication Institute (a partnership between UQ and MNHHS) and co-Director of the Australian Organoid Facility at UQ. Professor Cooper-White is a past President of both the Australasian Society for Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering and the Australian Society of Rheology and held the position of CSIRO Office of the Chief Executive (OCE) Science Leader. He has previously held a Visiting Professor Fellowships at ETH Zurich (2007) and Politecnico di Milano (2012-2013). Professor Cooper-White is the Australian representative and Past President of the Asian Biomaterials Federation; an elected Fellow of and Australian representative on the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering (IUSBE), and an elected Fellow and past vice President of the Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Cooper-White has many past and currently active international collaborations with world leading research groups at MIT (US); Stanford (USA); ETH (Switzerland); EPFL (Switzerland); SNU (Korea); University Of Grenoble (France); Politecnico di Milano (Italy); UCL (UK); and the Max Planck Institute (Germany). He has performed contract research and consultancy work for many multinational companies, including Unilever in the UK; Nestle International, Switzerland; Rhodia, US; Inion, Finland, Syngenta, UK; and NuFarm, AU since 2001.

He is the Editor-in-Chief of APL Bioengineering (American Institute of Physics Publishing); serves or has served on the editorial boards of Rheological Acta, Soft Materials, Biomicrofluidics and the Open Biomedical Engineering Journal; and is a reviewer of major international journals, including Nature Materials, Nature Methods, Advanced Materials, Lab on a Chip, Stem Cells, Stem Cells and Development, Biomacromolecules, Tissue Engineering, Langmuir, Biomaterials and Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics.

Research Impacts


Areas of focus: Smart surfaces, hydrogels, scaffolds and diagnostic microdevices for gene therapy, tissue engineering, stem cell therapy, and early disease detection. Materials and systems for understanding/probing mechanotransduction signalling and impacts on stem cell fate choices.

Recognition of Professor Cooper-White’s standing in the research field is reflected in the more than 20 plenary and 50 keynote presentations he has been invited to give at national and international conferences since 2001. He has served on the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) review panels for Centres of Research Excellence (2011) and Project Grants (2012-2014), the Health Research Council of New Zealand Assessment Committee (Biomedical) (2015-2016), and most recently the Singapore Ministry of Education Expert Panel for Life Sciences and Biomedical Engineering (2022, 2023). He has produced 6 Worldwide patents that have reached National Phase Entry in USA, Europe and Australia in the areas of formulation design for agriproducts, microbioreactor arrays (MBAs) and tissue engineering scaffolds. Technologies developed in his laboratory has been commercialised by an Australian SME and a USA-based start-up company. Professor Cooper-White has received more than $57 million in competitive grant funding.

His research focuses on understanding the role of microenvironmental cues on stem cell commitment and tissue genesis, and the critical roles that stem cells and their niches play in systemic losses of tissue and organ function as we age. His team applies this understanding to develop biomicrodevices, engineered surfaces and advanced scaffolds for cell therapy manufacturing and engineering tissue replacement or repair, and more recently, nanoparticles for targeted rejuvenation of our aged tissues.

One of the research group's projects involves developing bioengineered systems and device platforms that allow them to dissect the microenvironment in which stem cells ‘live’ during early tissue development. Variations in the microenvironment lead to the generation of different tissues.Using Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project funding, Professor Justin Cooper-White’s research group has determined the importance of spacing of adhesion peptides presented to mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) in influencing morphology, migration and differentiation. MSCs presented with closely-spaced peptides are predisposed to form bone, while those on widely-spaced peptides are more likely to differentiate into fat cells. The research is showing, for the first time, that nanoscale spacing of adhesion peptides influences stem cell differentiation and adds to the understanding of how MSCs interact with their surroundings.

Professor Cooper-White’s research group has developed a microbioreactor array technology platform that permits cells to be cultured under hundreds to thousands of different conditions, to work out the best conditions for growing them or differentiating them into target cell lineages - all in a device the size of a credit card. The technology has been patented and the Cooper-White research group is seeking to develop it in new applications with collaborators, with the aim of proving the value of data the technology can provide with industrial partners. Ultimately, the technology will accelerate research in stem cell development and regenerative medicine, drug screening, and bioprocess engineering, so the researchers want to take it to the world.


  • PhD, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Engineering, The University of Queensland


  • Iannotta, Dalila, Goncalves, Jenifer P., Ghebosu, Raluca E., Gopalakrishnan, Aswathi, Cooper-White, Justin and Wolfram, Joy (2023). Transforming undergraduate laboratory courses with interlinked real-world challenges. Trends in Biotechnology. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2023.10.006

  • Taherian Fard, Atefeh, Leeson, Hannah C., Aguado, Julio, Pietrogrande, Giovanni, Power, Dominique, Gómez-Inclán, Cecilia, Zheng, Huiwen, Nelson, Christopher B., Soheilmoghaddam, Farhad, Glass, Nick, Dharmaratne, Malindrie, Watson, Ebony R., Lu, Jennifer, Martin, Sally, Pickett, Hilda A., Cooper-White, Justin, Wolvetang, Ernst J. and Mar, Jessica C. (2023). Deconstructing heterogeneity of replicative senescence in human mesenchymal stem cells at single cell resolution. GeroScience, 1-17. doi: 10.1007/s11357-023-00829-y

  • Shaker, Mohammed R., Slonchak, Andrii, Al-mhanawi, Bahaa, Morrison, Sean D., Sng, Julian D. J., Cooper-White, Justin, Khromykh, Alexander A. and Wolvetang, Ernst J. (2023). Choroid plexus defects in Down syndrome brain organoids enhance neurotropism of SARS-CoV-2. bioRxiv. doi: 10.1101/2023.06.12.544552

View all Publications


  • Master Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision



  • Jun Li, Yoshihito Osada and Justin Cooper-White eds. (2018). Functional hydrogels as biomaterials. Springer Series in Biomaterials Science and Engineering, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg. doi: 10.1007/978-3-662-57511-6

Book Chapter

  • Maliger, Raju B., Halley, Peter J. and Cooper-White, Justin J. (2023). Characterization of 2D-Poly(glycerol sebacate) bioelastomer films through spectroscopic analysis. Advanced microscopy: a strong analytical tool for materials science. (pp. 61-76) edited by Merin Sara Thomas, Józef T. Haponiuk, Sabu Thomas and Anne George. Palm Bay, FL ; Boca Raton, FL, United States: Apple Academic Press ; CRC press. doi: 10.1201/9781003282044-4

  • Chau, L. T., Frith, J. E., Mills, R. J., Menzies, D. J., Titmarsh, D. M., Cooper-White, J. J. and Zhou, Yu (2021). Microfluidic devices for developing tissue scaffolds. Microfluidic devices for biomedical applications. (pp. 413-435) edited by Xiujun (James) Li and Yu Zhou. Duxford, United Kingdom: Woodhead Publishing. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-819971-8.00018-4

  • Li, Jun, Osada, Yoshihito and Cooper-White, Justin (2018). Functional Hydrogels as Biomaterials Preface. Functional Hydrogels as Biomaterials. (pp. V-VI) edited by Li, J., Osada, Y. and CooperWhite, J.. Berlin, Germany: Springer.

  • Pradal, Clementine and Cooper-White, Justin (2018). Hydrogels for directed stem cell differentiation and tissue repair. Functional Hydrogels as Biomaterials. (pp. 73-93) edited by Jun Li, Yoshihito Osada and Justin Cooper-White. Berlin, Germany: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-662-57511-6_3

  • Pujic, Zac, Nguyen, Huyen, Glass, Nick, Cooper-White, Justin and Goodhill, Geoffrey J. (2016). Axon guidance studies using a microfluidics-based chemotropic gradient generator. In 2nd (Ed.), Chemotaxis: methods and protocols (pp. 273-285) New York, NY United States: Springer New York. doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-3480-5_20

  • Wales, Stewart, Tan, Guak-Kim and Cooper-White, Justin.J. (2015). Controlling stem cell adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation with layer-by-layer films. Layer-by-layer films for biomedical applications. (pp. 103-130) edited by Catherine Picart, Frank Caruso and Jean-Claude Voegel. Weinheim, Germany: Wiley. doi: 10.1002/9783527675869.ch6

  • Chau, L. T., Frith, J. E., Mills, R. J., Menzies, D. J., Titmarsh, D. M. and Cooper-White, J. J. (2013). Microfluidic devices for developing tissue scaffolds. Microfluidic devices for biomedical applications. (pp. 363-387) edited by Xiujun (James) Li and Yu Zhou. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Woodhead Publishing. doi: 10.1533/9780857097040.3.363

  • Chau, L. T., Frith, J. E., Mills, R. J., Menzies, D. J., Titmarsh, D. M. and Cooper-White, J. J. (2013). Microfluidic platforms for informed tissue scaffold development.. Microfluidic Devices for Biomedical Applications. (pp. 363-387) edited by Xiujun (James) Li and Yu Zhou. Sawston, Cambridge, UK: Woodhead Publishing. doi: 10.1533/9780857097040

  • Frith, Jessica E., Jaramillo-Ferrada, Pamela, Mills, Richard J., Cameron, Andrew R., Titmarsh, Drew M., Wolvetang, Ernst J. and Cooper-White, Justin J. (2012). Development of defined culture conditions for expansion of human mesenchymal stromal cells for clinical applications. Stem cells and cancer stem cells: therapeutic applications in disease and injury. (pp. 13-26) edited by M. A. Hayat. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer Netherlands. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-4798-2_2

  • Lee, K.Y., Cooper-White, J.J., Keen, I. and Grondahl, L. (2008). Surface modification using RF oxygen plasma in tissue engineering. Tissue Engineering: Roles, Materials and Applications. (pp. 259-274) edited by Barnes, S.J. and Harris, L.P.. New York: Nova Science Publishers Inc.

  • Cao, Yang, Croll, Tristan I., Cooper-White, Justin J., O'Connor, Andrea J. and Stevens, Geoffrey W. (2004). Production and surface modification of polylactide-based polymeric scaffolds for soft tissue engineerings. Biopolymer methods in tissue engineering. (pp. 87-112) edited by Anthony P. Hollander and Paul V. Hatton. Totowa, N. J.: Humana Press. doi: 10.1385/1-59259-428-X:87

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision